Check the rays. Get the most out of your days.
We all love the relaxed Queensland lifestyle in summer – lots of sunshine, beach trips, swimming, hiking, picnics with friends or maybe even boating and camping.
Whatever it is that you love about Queensland in summer, unfortunately we have the highest skin cancer rates in the world. So, it’s important to check the rays and practice the 5 sun safe behaviours so you can get more out of your days.
Queensland has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world – each year, more than 4000 of us are diagnosed with melanoma. The good news is that skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, as almost all skin cancers are directly related to your exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This means that by protecting your skin from UV rays, you’re helping to reduce your risk of skin cancer. The other good news is that it’s never too late to start! Every day you protect your skin, you reduce your risk.
Sunburn can occur in as little as 15 minutes on a summer day in Australia so to protect your skin and reduce your risk, follow a combination of the following five steps of sun safety.
Slip into protective clothing
Choose clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible, such as collared shirts with long sleeves or dresses that hit below the knee. Close weave materials such as cotton, polyester/cotton and linen are best, especially in darker colours, as they will absorb more UV radiation than lighter colours. Materials such as Lycra remain sun protective even when wet, so it’s a great option for when you go swimming.
Slop on SPF30 or higher sunscreen, that is also broad-spectrum and water resistant.
Apply a generous amount of sunscreen to clean, dry skin at least 20 minutes before you go outside. Adults will typically need a teaspoon of sunscreen for their head and neck, each limb and the front and back of the body – that’s about seven teaspoons (35mL) for a full body application. Most people apply too little sunscreen and forget to reapply. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours when you’re spending time outdoors, and always after swimming, towel drying or excessive perspiration. Remember, sunscreen is not a suit of armour and should always be used in combination with other sun safety measures.
Slap on a hat
Choose, a broad-brimmed, legionnaire or bucket style hat which shades your face, nose, neck and ears. Caps and visors do not provide adequate protection and, just like your clothes, your hat should be made from closely woven material.
Shade alone can reduce your UV exposure by up to 75%. Make good use of trees and built structures to seek shade, or bring along your own, such as pop-up tent or umbrellas. Shade reduces UV radiation, but it can still reach you via reflection, so make sure you use shade in combination with other sun protection measures.
Slide on some sunglasses
Slides on some sunnies but make sure they’re a close-fitting, wrap around style that meet the Australian Standard AS 1067 and provide an Eye Protection Factor (EPF) of 9 or above. Worn together with a broad-brimmed hat, you’ll reduce UV radiation exposure to the eyes by up to 98%.
Think UV, not heat
UV radiation is an invisible danger because we can’t see or feel it. Overexposure to UV rays, either from the sun or solarium, causes permanent damage to your skin that builds up over time.
UV radiation can be high even on cool and overcast days, which means you can’t rely on clear skies or high temperatures to determine when you need to protect yourself from the sun. To combat this, we’ve developed our SunSmart app, which lets you know when the UV level is 3 or above and sun protection is needed – in Queensland, this will be most days.
Nearly all skin cancers can be cured if detected and treated early, so remember to check your skin regularly and visit your doctor if you notice a freckle, mole or lump that is new or changing in size, shape or colour.